The holiday season upon us! You may be counting down the days to that dream holiday in the sun. But wait! If you are separated from your child’s other parent, and they have Parental Responsibility, did you know you should obtain your ex partner’s consent to take the child on any holiday abroad?
So what is Parental Responsibility?
Parental Responsibility is all the rights, duties and obligations you have as a parent towards your child. In practice this means that both parents should consult in all the important decisions in a child’s life to include schooling, medical issues and religion. This also includes the need to agree with the other parent about holidays. As a mother, you gain Parental Responsibility automatically when a child is born. A father obtains this automatically only if he is married to the mother or is named on the birth certificate (for children born after 1 December 2003).
A parent who has a Child Arrangements Order that the child should live with you from the Court (you would know if you had one of those!) could go away on holiday with the child without the permission of the other parent for up to 28 days. The reality is however that it is always best to consult with the other parent about any holiday plans whether you have a Court Order or not.
It is critical for separated parents to plan ahead and communicate. Make your holiday requests well in advance and inform the other parent of your plans, such as the dates of the proposed holiday, the name of the hotel, flight details etc. It is also helpful to provide a contact telephone number in case of emergencies. Consider also, if your child will miss spending time with their other parent, whether extra provision could be made for the child to spend time with them on an alternative date. If the other parent holds your child’s passports then make the request for these passports well in advance to avoid any last minute issues.
I would urge all separated parents not to seek to make a well deserved holiday a battleground. As a general rule of thumb is that court would normally say a holiday was in the best interests of a child. Court proceedings are a last resort if an agreement cannot be reached. At Raworths we always try and look at all the alternatives before taking this step.
Even if you are together with your child’s other parent and your child has a different surname to you, it is not always plain sailing if you wish to travel abroad alone! You have probably heard stories about friends being stopped at passport control and being asked for proof that the child is indeed their own.
If this applies to you and you intend to travel alone with your child it is always worth while preparing a consent letter confirming that the child has permission to travel abroad. The letter should be signed by the parent who is not travelling with the child and should ideally be witnessed. Each country has different requirements for entry and exit and it always worth checking with the relevant embassy and travel provider as to what is required.
So, having returned to the UK, if the miserable weather and looking at the holiday snaps is making you yearn to return to that holiday paradise with the child on a permanent basis what should you do?
If you are separated from the child’s other parent formal steps must be taken to seek their permission to leave the English jurisdiction. You will need to have a comprehensive and well thought through plan. This will include not only where you will live and where the child will go to school, but most importantly what provision you propose for the left behind parent. It is not a foregone conclusion even if you are the parent with the day to day care of the child. If this is something that you are seriously considering, then get specialist advice at an early stage.
Where ever you’re heading, have a great holiday!
For further advice about Parental Responsibility and its impact please contact me, Sarah Minors, Senior Associate Solicitor at Raworths LLP on 01423 566666 or email me on email@example.com